Welcome to the age of omnichannel commerce. Just a few years ago, shoppers who used multiple channels did so one at a time, usually for separate transactions. But today, they move fluidly across websites, smartphones, tablets, social media, call centers and brick-and-mortar stores, giving rise to the omnichannel phenomenon that is here to stay.
Case in point: 45% of U.S. online retail customers plan to shop by combining online, mobile and physical touchpoints in 2012, according to a recent survey by Experian’s PriceGrabber price comparison service. Forty-two percent said they would shop mostly online—more than three times the 12 percent who will shop mostly in brick-and-mortar stores.
The rise of omnichannel shopping has clear implications for retailers, and for B2B, B2C merchants as well. Companies need to satisfy customer demand for a seamless, consistent experience regardless of the touchpoint used for product research, purchasing and service. That requirement for seamless consistency takes two forms.
First, the web storefront needs to adjust on the fly for optimal display to the customer’s device of choice, be it an iPhone, iPad, Android, typical laptop or other device to avoid poor rendering that prompts the shopper to click away. Secondly, a complete, real-time record of customers, orders and products needs to be available to both personnel and the company’s customer-facing systems to ensure accurate and timely response to inquiries across any touchpoint.
Responsive web design, the latest trend in website development, lets you deliver a website that adjusts dynamically to the user’s device, platform and screen resolution. So as your users switch from laptop to iPad to iPhone, your website will be automatically arranged for the resolution, image size and scripting abilities of each device.
The best thing about the concept of responsive design is that it reduces cost by eliminating the need for additional design and development for each new gadget that is out on the market, or to run separate website instances for each device. This method ensures you don’t miss traffic, regardless of what device your target audience is using. Importantly, responsive design and your underlying commerce system should be geared to future-proof customer interactions for touchpoints not yet envisioned—in other words, adapting flexibly as new touchpoints and interaction technologies emerge.
Responsive web design is a hallmark of NetSuite SuiteCommerce, which also addresses the second requirement of a single view. Operating directly on the core NetSuite business management application, SuiteCommerce consolidates all customer, order and product information into a single data set that spans touchpoints, empowering your personnel and systems to have real-time information at their fingertips whenever and wherever it’s needed.
The stakes are high. In our age of discriminating and connected consumers, missteps in the webstore experience or customer service can lead to not just customer dissatisfaction, but to an unflattering review on social media. Find out more about what NetSuite SuiteCommerce offers.
Andy Lloyd - GM of Commerce Products
 PriceGrabber, “2012 Shopping Outlook: Consumers plan a steady budget equal to 2011, according to PriceGrabber survey,” press release, February 28, 2012.